MANILA – Thousands of supporters of the president of the Philippines marched in the streets of Manila on Thursday to ask him to declare a revolutionary government.
Over 2,000 people gathered at the start of the rally, which is scheduled to go on into the night, on a national holiday marking the birth anniversary of national hero, Andres Bonifacio, who began the fight against Spanish colonial rule.
The demonstrators demanded that a revolutionary government be declared to replace the 1987 Constitution and a federal system be established, which would give President Rodrigo Duterte absolute power to end corruption, drugs and crime in the Philippines.
A similar number of people protested against Duterte, who they described as authoritarian and accused of planning, under the pretext of a revolutionary government, an autocratic system such as the one used by dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the country with an iron fist between 1965 and 1986.
In some of his speeches in recent months, the Philippine president threatened to declare a revolutionary government if the Communist rebels and Islamist militants operating in the country destabilized the government.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque reiterated on Thursday that those statements were mere rhetoric and that the president had no real intention of declaring a revolutionary government as he already enjoyed a popularity rating of 80 percent and there was no real and imminent threat to the country’s stability.
Despite a heavy deployment of police officers to prevent Duterte’s supporters and detractors from clashing, violent skirmishes between protesters and officers in Manila during the 154th anniversary of Bonifacio were observed.
Bonifacio, born in 1863, was the founder of Katipunan, an armed movement which began a rebellion against Spanish colonial rule in 1896.
The Spanish government finally sold the Asian archipelago to the United States under the 1898 Treaty of Paris, after losing the Spanish-American War.